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Community cleanup planned in New Kensington

BRIAN C. RITTMEYER| Friday, March 19, 2021 6:01 a.m. Valley News Dispatch

It’s been nearly a year since a tornado tore through New Kensington, and Kim Louis is still finding bits of roofing insulation stuck in weeds when she goes out for walks.

“It’s just gross,” she said.

So when Louis, director of Sonward Youth Programs, saw a Girl Scout troop looking for volunteer opportunities, she knew just the thing they could do — a community cleanup.

The cleanup is scheduled for noon to 4 p.m. April 11, with a rain date of April 18. Westmoreland Community Action and Olde Towne Overhaul are helping organize it with Sonward.

“Since we haven’t had any large community cleanups since covid started, then we had the tornado go through last year, there is trash everywhere,” she said. “The community looks disgusting and we want to fix it.”

People are welcome to come and help, Louis said. Larger groups are asked to sign up by April 9 so there will be enough supplies.

Although some supplies will be available and provided, volunteers are asked to bring their own gloves, brooms, garbage claws and shovels if they have them. Garbage bags and water bottles will be provided.

Volunteers will meet at the parklet at 5th Avenue and 8th Street for supplies and assignments. It will end at Voodoo Brewery, where pizza will be provided.

Participants will be asked to wear face masks and remain socially distanced when near people from outside their households.

The spark for the cleanup came from a Facebook post by Alicia Phillips, a co-leader of Girl Scout Troop 28043. The troop’s eight girls, ages 6 through 9, will be participating — and providing their famous cookies for snacks.

Phillips said she posted in a New Kensington community group, looking for things that need to be done in the community.

“Everyone responded. Kim was one of them,” Phillips said. “Everyone in the community was ready to see some change and we’re all pitching in and doing some projects.”

How much area gets cleaned up will depend on how many turn out, Louis said. Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, church members, business owners, families and other community members are expected to help pick up trash. Olde Towne Overhaul will have pickups to get bigger things, and a dumpster will be available.

“We’ll radiate out from the middle of downtown and get as much trash cleaned up as we can,” Louis said.

Louis is hoping to be pleasantly surprised by how many come out to help.

“New Kensington has so much to offer, then you drive through and there’s garbage everywhere. A cleanup just lifts everybody’s spirits and makes us want to be outside together,” she said. “We are responsible for cleaning up our community. We need to take ownership as residents.”

Phillips said she’d like to see the cleanup happen every year.

“We’d like to see it grow,” she said. “That would be awesome.”

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